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New American Gothic: A good time to sleep

New American Gothic: A good time to sleep

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Last night I went to bed around 8. I woke up several times to walk the dog, and tossed and turned some. For the most part, though, I slept well. Then in the morning I was up at around 8.

Even for me this was some kind of record, except maybe when I was a teenager and had been awake for two days before.

Mia Dog and I are exhausted, but not more than Maggie, who has been sick from a tick-borne infection for three weeks.

She is finally on a course of antibiotics which hopefully will clear the infection up. Anaplasmosis is what it’s called. It has knocked her out — exhaustion and fevers.

The frightening thing is she never gets sick. As her grandmother would say in her nice German accent, “She is strong like bull.”

After a COVID-19 test, and then waiting for another round of labs and blood work, she was finally given permission to take antibiotics. I’m sure if good old Doctor Pitkin were still in practice, he would have handled it differently. You know: tick bite, followed by illness, with the right symptoms equals immediate need for at least prophylactic treatment.

When we had those warm days a few weeks ago, the ticks were everywhere, I had them. Maggie had them, Mia Dog had them. We didn’t get them from the yard. The chickens take care of that. They came from the woods and bush.

In Saratoga County there have been several cases of exactly the same illness. It’s carried not by the Lyme tick, but the black-legged tick that has migrated here recently from the West, just like other ticks have come up from the South. It used to get so cold here in the winter it knocked out the ticks, and the slugs for that matter.

I usually wait until spring to write about the ticks, but if these last warm days were any indication, we better double our tick awareness come next spring or during any major warm-ups.

Between Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, we outdoors types have our work cut out for us. Both diseases can infect not only people, but dogs and horses, and who knows what else.

Well, Maggie kept up doing things at half speed during this time. She still made cheese and yogurt and pasteurized milk and more. She always has been “strong like bull.”

Normally, we would have summoned a child home or called our neighbor Seamus to come help. The problem with that is we didn’t know for sure what Maggie was sick with, and right now everybody has to be cautious until we make it to a vaccine for COVID.

That means about all I have been getting done during the day is taking care of animals, milking goats, a little fence repair and occasionally washing clothes. Plus, of course, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying, which takes away energy.

I didn’t even help with turkeys this year, which is a first for me in a long time. That is my chance to see my Wilton friends at the Vincek Farm and lend a hand during a challenging time on the farm. It is always a highlight of my year.

I think this year Josh Vincek will be left with extra turkeys because there have been some cancellations over COVID concerns. Who could have seen all this coming last Thanksgiving?

Maybe these holidays I’ll work on sleeping 12 hours a day, and forget about it.

Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley, N.Y. Leave a message at


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